Raymond Sackler

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Raymond Sackler
Raymond Sackler

(1920-02-16)February 16, 1920
Brooklyn, New York, United States
DiedJuly 17, 2017(2017-07-17) (aged 97)
Alma mater
OccupationPhysician and pharmaceuticals entrepreneur
Known forPhilanthropist, art collector
Net worth$13 billion (2016)[1]
Spouse(s)Beverly Feldman

Raymond Sackler (February 16, 1920 – July 17, 2017)[2][3] was an American physician, billionaire entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Raymond Sackler was, together with his brother Mortimer Sackler, owner of Purdue Pharma, the developer of Oxycontin.[4][5][6] Sackler and his wife, directly and through the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation, have funded numerous philanthropic programs at universities around the world.

Early life[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, New York to a Jewish family, in 1920, Sackler was educated at Erasmus High School, and attended New York University where he received a bachelor's degree in 1938. Due to Jewish quotas imposed by the major U.S. medical schools during that era, he pursued medical education starting at Anderson College of Medicine in Glasgow, Scotland.[7] When World War II began, he stayed in Scotland and volunteered in the British Home Guard and also served as a plane spotter.[8] He returned to the U.S. and completed his studies at Middlesex University School of Medicine (a school on the site of current day Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.) where he received an MD in 1944. Sackler married Beverly Feldman in 1944. They had two sons, Richard S. Sackler and Jonathan D. Sackler.

Medical career[edit]

Sackler was certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (P) in 1957, and was a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.[9] Sackler, with his two brothers, Arthur and Mortimer, co-founded the Creedmoor Institute for Psychobiological Studies in New York City, where they engaged in research in the psycho-biology of schizophrenia and manic depressive psychosis. They received two awards from the Medical Society of the State of New York: the First Award for Scientific Research; and one year later, Honorable Mention for Scientific Research.

Pharmaceutical business[edit]

With lessons learned in research, Sackler and his brother Mortimer transitioned into the development of numerous pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and research companies, Sackler being closely associated with the now global reach of Purdue Pharma in the United States and Canada and Mundipharma, Ltd. in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Purdue Pharma, which is 100% privately owned and operated by the families of Raymond and Mortimer Sackler (families worth $13 billion[10]) is well known for successful research and development, and particularly for marketing[5][4] the opiate drug Oxycontin and related compounds.


The Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, restored in 1992 with support of Beverly and Raymond Sackler.

Sackler and his wife, Beverly, directly and through the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundations, initiated and sustained major research programs in the biomedical, biological, physical and engineering sciences through the establishment/endowment of schools, institutes, centers, departments, endowed chairs, professorships, fellowships, research awards in the biomedical and physical sciences, and lectureships at academic institutions around the world. Sackler became acquainted with scientific and academic experts such as Nobel Laureates Joshua Lederberg (Rockefeller University), Emilio G. Segrè (UC Berkeley), Julius Axelrod (NIH), Phillip Sharp (MIT) and Martin Chalfie (Columbia University). In support of the arts, the Sacklers were recognized by the British Museum (Raymond and Beverly Sackler Wing, the Ancient Near East and Egypt), the Louvre, and, together with his two brothers, the Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, which houses the Temple of Dendur and study centers for Chinese and Japanese Art History.

Together with his brothers, in 1980 Sackler established doctoral educational programs at two US Universities:

He and his wife Beverly established the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Medical Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine (UK) and were sponsors at that medical school of the MB/PhD Program and a new cancer research program, as well as a visiting professorship/lecturership in the medical sciences.

The Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University, sponsored conjointly with Sackler's two brothers in 1964, includes the Sackler School of Medicine, the Maurice and Gabriel Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine and the Sackler Institute of Molecular Medicine. The initial sponsorship at Tel Aviv University has grown substantially over the past three decades through expanding support from Sackler and his wife Beverly, including the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences that includes schools, institutes, centers and departments in physics, mathematics, chemistry, geophysics and astronomy/planetary sciences, as well as an institute of biophysics, a chair in the nanosciences and a chair in bioinformatics.

Tel Aviv University also serves as the institutional sponsor of two prizes endowed by Sackler and his wife Beverly:

  • The International Prize in Physical Sciences[11]
  • The International Prize in Biophysics[12]

Sackler and his wife Beverly established the Institute of Advanced Studies at Tel Aviv University with Mortimer participating.

At Leiden University in the Netherlands Sackler supported the Laboratory for Astrophysics named after him.[13] He also gave Leiden University an endowment for the establishment of the Raymond and Beverly Chair of American History.

Sackler was the moving force, one of the founders, and oversaw the implementation of the Sackler School of Medicine New York State / American Program chartered by the New York State Board of Regents that provides a four-year medical education program for American students at the Sackler School of Medicine of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

Convergence Research Programs In the past decades, Sackler and his wife Beverly have created, supported and endowed numerous programs that embrace the concept of convergence in scientific research. These programs include:

  • The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation Fellowship at Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHÉS), France, to fund invited researchers from Israel at IHÉS, 1990
  • The Raymond and Beverly Sackler American Fellowship at IHÉS, France, to fund invited researchers from the USA at IHÉS, 2002
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute of Biophysics, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, 2004
  • The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lectureship at IHÉS, France, 2004
  • The Raymond & Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, Yale University, 2008
  • Raymond & Beverly Sackler Laboratories of Biomedical and Biophysical Studies, Rockefeller University, 2008
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences, Weill Cornell Medical College, including a program in cardiac stem cell research dedicated to friend and colleague Professor Isadore Rosenfeld, 2008
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fund for Biomedical and Physical Sciences, in honor of Phillip A. Sharp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2010
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratory of Biomedical and Physical Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 2010
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratories in the Physics of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2010
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, 2011
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, in honor of Emilio Segre, University of California, Berkeley, 2011
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratories for Biomedical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, in honor of Saul J. Farber, New York University, School of Medicine, 2011
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Convergence of Biomedical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, in honor of David Baltimore, California Institute of Technology, 2012
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Convergence of Biomedical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, in honor of Herbert Pardes, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center, 2012
  • Raymond & Beverly Sackler Convergence Laboratory, Tufts University School of Medicine, 2013

In 2003, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in the Medical Sciences series was established in collaboration with the Academy of Medical Sciences. Previous speakers have included Aaron Klug, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Richard P. Lifton.

In addition, to promote national and international scientific collaboration, Sackler and his wife Beverly established in 2008, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler USA-UK Scientific Forum, to foster collaboration between the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and the Royal Society (UK).

In 2010, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation Science Fund in honor of Ralph J. Cicerone, at the National Academy of Sciences (USA) was established to provide support of scientific programs independent of governmental requests/funding.[14]

In 2011, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture Series in Neuroscience was established at Cardiff University.

In 2012, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture Series in Archaeology in honour of Professor Norman Hammond was established at the University of Cambridge.

Astrophysics: Sackler and his wife Beverly have supported research in astronomy, physics, and astrophysics at many world-renowned institutions. At the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, they established International Conferences held every other year. At the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University (UK), their support of the Deep Sky Initiative Project resulted in the design, development and construction of an infrared camera and infrared spectrometer superior to those in existence, thereby significantly improving the performance of land-based telescopes. They also endowed a visiting fellowship program at the Institute of Astronomy. At Christ’s College, Trinity College, Churchill College and Magdalene College, the Sacklers endowed research fellowships at each college. At Leiden University, they sponsored the continuation of the Observatory Laboratory for research simulating conditions in outer space; they also endowed a Visiting Astronomer/Astrophysicist program. As a tribute to Raymond and Beverly Sackler's support of research in astrophysics and astronomy, Asteroid 7690 Sackler was named in their honor in a joint citation by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Leiden University Observatory.[15] At IHÉS, in France, the Sacklers endowed the Raymond and Beverly Visiting Chair for Theoretical Physics and Cosmology in 2012. They endowed distinguished lectures in physics at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as a visiting professorship in Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Honors and awards (partial list)[edit]

  • Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Tel Aviv University, 1979
  • Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, France, 1989, promoted to Officer de la Légion d'honneur, 2013
  • Honorary Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE), 1995
  • Doctor of Law Honoris Causa, University of Cambridge, 1998[16]
  • Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa, University of Connecticut, 1998
  • Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, Medical University of Ohio at Toledo, 2006
  • Officer in the Royal Order of Orange Nassau, The Netherlands, 2004


On October 30, 2017, The New Yorker published a multi-page exposé on Raymond Sackler, Purdue Pharma, and the Sackler family as a whole.[5] The article links Raymond and Arthur Sackler's business acumen with the rise of direct pharmaceutical marketing and eventually to the rise of addiction to OxyContin in the United States. The article implies that Raymond Sackler bears some moral responsibility for the opioid epidemic in the United States.[5]

There are concerns that the Sackler family's philanthropy is related to laundering of profits acquired from the misselling of opiates,[17] which assisted in the opioid epidemic in North America[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bosilkovski, Igor. "Raymond Sackler, Former CEO Of OxyContin Producer Purdue Pharma, Dies At 97". forbes.com. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Dr. Raymond Sackler, Physician and Supporter of Research Science, Dies at 97". Benzinga. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  3. ^ admin (18 July 2017). "Raymond Sackler Obituary - Greenwich, Connecticut". Legacy.com. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b "The Secretive Family Making Billions From the Opioid Crisis". Esquire. 2017-10-16. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  5. ^ a b c d Keefe, Patrick Radden (2017-10-23). "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  6. ^ Langer, Emily (July 21, 2017). "Raymond Sackler, philanthropist and maker of OxyContin, dies at 97". Washington Post. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  7. ^ Roberts, Sam (July 19, 2017). "Raymond Sackler, Psychopharmacology Pioneer and Philanthropist, Dies at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  8. ^ "Dr. Raymond Sackler, co-owner of Purdue Pharma, dies at 97". Fairfield County Business Journal. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  9. ^ "About the Sackler Lecture Series". University of Connecticut. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  10. ^ "America's Richest Families". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  11. ^ "The Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Physics | Tel Aviv University". Tau.ac.il. 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  12. ^ [1] Archived June 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "History - Prof Harold Linnartz and Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics".
  14. ^ "December 22 2011: Raymond and Beverly Sackler Provide Endowment for Biomedical Science Projects". Nasonline.org. 2011-12-22. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  15. ^ MPC
  16. ^ "Reporter 8/7/98: Congregation of the Regent House on 24 June 1998". Admin.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  17. ^ "Sackler Blood Money disgraces museums". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  18. ^ "New Yorker Sackler Article". newyorker.com. Retrieved 2018-10-17.